The Capitals recalled forwards Jakub Vrana and Paul Carey from Hershey and reassigned struggling rookie Zach Sanford to the Bears, Washington announced Wednesday evening.
The Caps are eager to find more offense and to get a look at Vrana, the 13th overall pick in 2014. The 20-year-old is tied for third in the AHL with nine goals in 18 games. The Czech winger also has seven assists.
Because of the Caps’ proximity to the salary cap ceiling, they had to send down Sanford ($875,000 salary) in order to recall Vrana ($863,333).
Sanford practiced with the Caps on Wednesday morning, but afterward Coach Barry Trotz acknowledged that there had been internal discussions about sending him down. Sanford returned to the facility a few hours later to grab his gear and head to Hershey.
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In 18 games with the Caps this season, Sanford had no goals and one assist. He had played only 6:37 and 8:23 in the last two games, respectively.
Trotz said he was concerned that Sanford wasn’t getting enough ice time in Washington. He also noted that Sanford could benefit from the confidence boost he'd get in the minors.
“He’s played very, very well in a lot of areas," Trotz said prior to the move. "He’s still making plays. He just hasn’t got a reward for that. We’re always juggling development and long term for Zach. We think he’s going to be a really good player for us. But we got to make sure that we’re doing the right things and he’s getting enough minutes.”
Trotz added: “He’s played well but he hasn’t got a lot of stats. As a young guy, you want some stats.”
It’s unclear where Vrana, a left wing, will fit in the Capitals’ lineup. But the reason he was called up is easy to figure out: the Capitals have scored 12 goals in five games and they want to see if Vrana, who had four goals and five assists in the Bears' last nine games, can help fix that.
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